Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Book Author: S. F. Kosa

THE NIGHT WE BURNED by S. F. Kosa: Book Review

Have you ever given serious consideration to cults and to those who join them?  Perhaps you’ve believed that people who join cults are weak, easily persuaded, or simply can’t deal with today’s world.  It can be easy to think less of those people, telling ourselves that we could never be taken in by a leader who preaches or teaches things alien to our core belief system; we are smarter, or better, than that.

But we are all vulnerable in some way, and Christy is certainly no exception.  Down to her last two quarters, she’s panhandling on the streets of Portland, Oregon when she’s approached by a young woman about her own age, offering her a delicious smelling cinnamon muffin.  The woman is Eszter, and after a few minutes of conversation the two go to the house where Eszter lives with a group of people she refers to as her family.

Fast forward twenty-one years, and we meet Dora Rodriguez.  She’s working as an investigative reporter for an online newspaper, and at a morning meeting a colleague pitches what he’s convinced will be a major story.  Two decades earlier, Miles tells the group, there was a massive fire at a commune in Bend, Oregon.  The group living there was a cult called the Oracles of Innocence, and some thirty members died, including children, when the blaze destroyed a building on the grounds.

Three adults were charged in the aftermath of these deaths and went to jail.  Now, Miles says, it’s the twentieth anniversary of the tragedy, and he expects that this will “bring out all the crazies.”  He tells the group that the body of a man was just found in Bend in a bathtub, covered with flame retardant.  And there’s one more odd thing–the man had a rock in his mouth, similar to the painted rocks that the police found on the cult’s grounds after the fire.  He’s sure there’s more to be discovered, and he wants to cover the story.

Dora has never told anyone at the paper that she was one of the group’s members.  She’s changed her name, moved out of Oregon to Seattle, invented a fictitious family background, and made a new life for herself.  If Miles finds out what happened in Bend, and to the people involved in the Oracles of Innocence, she can see her life tumbling down around her.  The only thing she can do to prevent this is to accompany him and deflect him from what actually happened and her role in it.

The Night We Burned is a thrilling ride into what draws people into cults and keeps them there.  The characters in the book are exceptionally well drawn and fascinating, and the plot will keep you guessing until the end.

S. F. Kosa is a clinical psychologist by training and the author of more than twenty novels.  You can read more about her at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.